Winds were gusting to 40+mph and there were equipment failures. The group started as 14 trucks, by Saturday afternoon we were down to 12.
Gas stops were a common theme.
A fuel stop in Hanksville resulted in a chance encounter with a writer for Overland Journal, he suggested Poison Springs Canyon as a good place for our Saturday night. We were all exhausted from the sleepless night of howling wind and blowing snow and just needed a good nights sleep. More snow was coming and we would have to make a decision in the morning to depart Utah or continue on.
Sunday morning we decided that with Flagstaff getting potentially 15 inches of snow in the next 24 to 36 hours and even the possibility of snow near the northern beaches of Lake Powell, it would likely be another sleepless night and all of our equipment would be wet. We decided to head home. But the morning looked so perfect.
Snow began as we aired up and continued off and on the whole way home.
While I enjoyed the trip very much, it was not what I mapped out. The weather is so very unpredictable in February, people planned for cold and with a low of 28 the first night and 25 the second it was cold. Wind at 40 MPH is another story, wind chill on top of 28 degrees ( calculates to 10 degrees ) makes even the hardiest question the sanity of camping in this cold.
Mud was a huge concern, we opted to look for drier ground and less wind, we found it for one glorious night.
We will return. So much to see and some things cannot be unseen, am I right @Stepmurr ?
First off, some amazing photography skills amongst the group! Keep them coming...
My miniature trip report is as follows;
After setting up the rig the night before, I was ready to go on Friday morning as 4 of us headed up I17 toward the Flagstaff meeting spot. I really get into 4-day overland trips, because I know there's plenty of time to enjoy the drive and the people in the group as we start the long weekend. As I merged onto I17 Northbound, I was slightly ahead of the pack, and as I built up speed, I got the HAM call from White Steve that they were passing on my left. Underway, and got settled in for the trip to Flag.
Once there (127mi later), we gassed up in the cold, wind, and rain and shook hands with our compatriots for the trip. I think the count was 14 at this point when we got back on the road headed further North. There's something to seeing a long line of overlander vehicles as they make their way along desolate stretches of road, and this sight reminded me of a lot of past trips getting somewhere special. The chatter on the HAM was lively and kept me from thinking about the miles as they ticked by on the odometer. Before I knew it, we crossed the San Juan river bridge and were in Mexican Hat and gassing up again - an all-too-common occurrence that 80 series owners will appreciate. The many 100 series guys were comparing fuel mileage, but I've long since given up on trying to see how far I can stretch a gallon (or 25) of gasoline. Fueled, we headed over to the Mexican Hat rock formation on which the town is named. From there, to the Moki Dugway. Clear and bright, the clouds weren't building for what would become a snowy weekend.
Fast forward to going up - and then down - the Moki Dugway and we're headed across an easy and fast dirt road to the first nights campspot, where I captured our Trip Leader setting up for the night:
A few of us walked out to the ledge of the San Juan river valley to have a look;
Little did we know how cold it would get after a brief campfire. Many of us went to bed early to get settled into our sleeping bags in hopes of a good night's rest. About midnight, the wind on the ridge picked up and whipped tents into a frenzy all night until exactly 7am, at which time it died off so we could fold up tends, scrape the snow (snow?!) off of our tent flaps and try to get buttoned up for the day's trip to Hite / Bullfrog / Hanksville. While in Hanksville getting gassed up, another overland Cruiser flew by (@mpho?) and circled back a few minutes later to see what we were up to.
@Saddletramp expressed our need to find a place for 12, out of the wind and hopefully out of the snow. The recommendation came back as Poison Creek Wash. After the previous night's wind event, several of our troupe had shredded sleeping accommodations and wanted to get back home. After quick good-byes, we were all back on the road and headed in various directions. For the camping group, you saw the amazing pictures already of the Poison Creek Wash and all it had to offer. This was really an amazing and serendipitous opportunity to spend a few hours driving along the lonely canyon trails and taking in the beauty of southern Utah. This is one of the most incredible journeys I've been on, and to think that we could have missed it by going on another trail...
Camping that night was exactly what we needed, with zero wind, minor snow flurries around the campfire, and some FireBall and music to round out the night. Back snug in my rooftop tent, I was looking forward to getting some rest for what would be the long drive back to Phoenix, back the way we'd come. With the snow storms projected for later that afternoon (Sunday), we all wanted to stay, but knew that if we were going to make it back through Flagstaff before 15" dropped, we had to get going. Headed back to Hite, I shot this photo of the bridge over the Colorado river with a quick lunch stop at the Dirty Devil river pull-outs;
So much more that I left out, and we can tell more of those stories at the monthly meeting on Friday night. All totaled, I had just over 1,000 miles on the new Toyo's, lots of hours racked up driving in and on snow, and some outstanding memories with a great group of people to remember this trip.
Thanks to each and every one of you, and especially Saddletramp and Stepmur (*our dedicated tailgunner) for pre-running this, making sure we had options available for everyone at each step of the way, and making this a rewarding and memorable experience for years to come. It's overland trips like this that rekindle my love for the outdoors. I just wish Utah were closer,